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State Department Reveals List of Russia Sanctions Targets

by Countable | 10.28.17

What’s the story?

Responding to pressure from both Democrats and Republicans, the Trump administration has released a list of 39 Russian companies and government organizations to target for sanctions. Starting next year, any U.S. company doing business with those on the list will be hit with financial sanctions.

The new sanctions are meant to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 presidential election and for its actions in Ukraine.

In early August, President Donald Trump reluctantly signed a bill into law which gave the administration until October 1 to produce a list of possible targets for sanctions. The August bill, which Trump said "included a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions," also targeted North Korea and Iran with penalties.

The Trump administration missed the October 1 deadline, which resulted in members of Congress pressuring the president to act. On Friday, October 27, the State Department published the list of Russian entities targeted for sanctions on its website.

"The roster of targeted companies and agencies could have broad ramifications for U.S. and foreign entities that have dealings with them," according to the Washington Post.

Why does it matter?

Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), who had been critical of Trump’s delay in executing the law, released a joint statement saying that the "administration’s announcement is a step in the right direction."

"By issuing guidance for the implementation of the sanctions legislation, the administration is slowly but surely carrying out the law that Congress passed overwhelmingly this summer," the statement said. It continued:

"Congress will continue to conduct oversight of each step to ensure the administration is following both the letter and the spirit of the law."

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and a vocal Trump critic, said in a statement that Congress "will expect thorough and timely consultation until full implementation is complete."

Asked about the delay in getting Congress the list of sanctions, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert blamed the complexity of the process, and also noted that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is "very hands-on in these types of things."

The list, according to experts on Russia contacted by CBS news, "covers most of the Russian defense sector."

Mark Simakovsky, a former Defense Department official and Atlantic Council fellow, told the news outlet that "this seems to be a comprehensive list that broadly covers a significant portion of the Russian defense industry. The administration likely took very seriously the review, required of the legislation, and has sought to abide by the terms."

Five of the six Russian defense contractors included on the State Department list, CBS explained, "are among the 100 biggest defense companies worldwide."

In response to the sanctions, the Russian government accused the U.S. of displaying "hostility."

"These are echoes of unfriendly signs, to be precise, even hostility against our country," Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told reporters on a conference call.

What do you think?

Do you support the sanctions against Russia? Or are they "unfriendly signs"? Will they stop Russia from interfering in future elections? What further sanctions – if any – would you hope to see? Hit Take Action, tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

— Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: Kremlin / Creative commons)

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